September 2, 2002 
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'I hate the film industry'
Jessica Choksi, Manisha Koirala's body double, is not happy under the limelight

Manisha Koirala's body double Jessica Choksi (for Shashilal Nair's much-talked about film Ek Chhotisi Love Story), has been propelled rather unwittingly under the spotlight.

In the eye of the controversy -- Koirala threatened Nair with a law suit on grounds of obscenity. The case was dismissed by the Mumbai High Court. Now, Koirala plans to move to the Supreme Court -- the 18-year-old Jessica confesses she might not have agreed to do the film had she known she would receive so much 'negative publicity' following the spat between Koirala and Nair.

Jessica speaks to Vickey Lalwani about the reasons that made her accept the bit part in Nair's film:

How did Ek Chhotisi Love Story happen?

I modelled at the Nikon photo fair last year. A coordinator at the fair approached me to be Manisha Koirala's body double January 15, 2001.

I told him I would think about it. Then I met director Shashilal Nair. He promised me that my face and name will not be revealed. I never knew that I would get so much negative publicity. I never anticipated that things would come to such a pass, else I might not have done the role.

Whom did you consult before signing on for the part?

Not a soul. I took three hours to decide, but I decided myself. I went all alone for the shoot.

How did you take such a decision on your own?

I had to do it. I needed the money for my mother --- she is suffering from cancer. My father is no more. My family has no other source of income. My elder brother tried his hand at business, but it didn't take off.

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Consequently, he became depressed and hit the bottle. My younger brother, Parth, is just 11. I want him to study further.

I have too many responsibilities at the moment. I could not even pursue my studies. I studied only uptill std XI.

How many days were you required on the sets and how many scenes did you shoot?

I was required for one-and-half days and shot nine scenes.

How did the unit treat you?

Extremely well. Nobody misbehaved with me. But I felt odd and uncomfortable. I went through it, because I had been assured that my face and name will not be revealed.

Was Manisha present on the sets when you were there?

Yes. She had seen me. She should have made it a point to watch those scenes, there and then. All this din would possibly never have occured then. More important, I would have been spared from all this negative publicity.

Have you seen the movie?

Yes. There are a few love-making scenes, but there is no nudity. Too much ado is being made about nothing. If there had been nudity, would the court have passed the movie?

Possibly, Manisha is trying to gain publicity or Shashilal Nair is trying to hype the film.

But I can tell you this --- there is a world of difference between Manisha's figure and mine.

How did you feel when you saw the scenes where your presence has been utilised?

I felt neither guilty nor ashamed. I have done no crime.

Are you going to sue Shashilal Nair?

Definitely. He should not have revealed my name. How else has the media swooped down on me? I have suffered immensely. My friends and relatives are calling me up and asking me about all this.

I didn't want anybody to know. It's very embarrassing.

You claim that Shashilal Nair paid you Rs 12,500 for shooting as a double and Rs 8,000 for signing the affidavit. But just a few days ago, you said you were given Rs 25,000 and Rs 10,000 for the same. Could you clarify?

I never said I was given Rs 25,000 and Rs 10,000. I was misquoted by a section of the press which broke this story.

Where do you go from here?

I worked in a few television serials and I have some offers in my kitty. I want to become a good television actress. If destiny fails me, I will try taking up a good job.

What about films?

I have a small role in the forthcoming Footpath. But I don't want to any more films. I hate the film industry.

Eighty per cent of the people in this industry are bad. There are coordinators who bring these 'compromise' offers to the girls. I have come across many people who say they will offer me roles provided I 'compromise'. Here, your talent and beauty do not seem to count. You are on, provided you are ready to 'compromise'.

How is your mother now?

Her cancer is in the last stages. I knew her cancer was incurable, but I couldn't turn my back to caring for her. I just didn't get a regular job then.


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